Considerations When Buying Wild Reef Fish

Diamond Goby
A lot of people want to make a lot of money by capturing marine fish in the fastest possible time often without regard to their good health. Because the market is quite competitive shops will often buy fish that are offered a little cheaper. As aquarist you have to ask yourself is it worth buying a fish a little cheaper knowing that tens of others will have died in the wild during its capture. Is that cheap live rock worth the destruction of a whole Eco system? If you think this is an exaggeration then read on.


Cyanide is a well-known lethal compound and the last thing you would expect to be used to capture fish for the pet industry. The two countries (The Philippines and Indonesia) that supply 80% of the pet industry livestock are both known to use this method of capture. A tablet of Cyanide is dissolved in water and the solution is placed in a squirt bottle fitted with a nozzle when a suitable collection site is found the solution is squirted in to the area and in all the nooks and crannies. The unconscious fish are then easily collected. They are bagged and taken to shore where they are re-bagged removing the dead and most severely poisoned. This will happen several times, the survivors are then sold on. The Coral where the Cyanide was squirted is doomed and will be dead within days and all the creatures within the area are also killed the whole local Eco system will never recover because faster growing Algae's and soft Corals colonise the dead area more quickly than the stony Corals so it is changed forever.

The effects of Cyanide.

Cyanide prevents the blood from carrying Oxygen and it only takes a minute amount to do this, without Oxygen the fish past and most die the ones that receive the highest dose are doomed and only the ones getting the smallest dose will live long enough to be sold on. But because of the numbers involved and the ease at which they can be collected makes it worth while for the criminals carrying it out. Fish that have been affected show all the symptoms of poisoning

Finally if you buy one of these fish for a few pounds or dollars less and then it dies after a few days or weeks do you still think that you had bought a bargain!


Bad practice isn't confined to using poisons. In order to collect Live rock in sufficient quantities blasting with explosives is used to smash up the rock and make it more easily collectable. Whilst this has little effect on the actual pieces that you buy it has a devastating effect on the local Eco system. This problem seems to be at its worst with rock collected in the Caribbean. If a shop or any retail outlet is selling a very wide range of species and cheaply then beware. And remember the real cheapest way to buy something is to buy it once.

Other Ethical Fishkeeping Information